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Two-component systems (TCS) are universal among bacteria and play critical roles in gene regulation. Our understanding of the contributions of TCS in the biology of the Borrelia is just now beginning to develop. Borrelia burgdorferi, a causative agent of
Lyme disease, harbours a TCS comprised of open reading frames (ORFs) BB0419 and BB0420. BB0419 encodes a response regulator designated Rrp1, and BB0420 encodes a hybrid histidine kinase-response regulator designated Hpk1. Rrp1, which contains a conserved GGDEF domain, undergoes phosphorylation and produces the secondary messenger, cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP), a critical signaling molecule in numerous organisms. However, the regulatory role of the Rrp1-Hpk1 TCS and c-di-GMP signaling in Borrelia biology are unexplored. In this study, the distribution, conservation, expression and potential global regulatory capability of Rrp1 were assessed. rrp1 was found to be universal and highly conserved among isolates, co-transcribed with hpk1, constitutively expressed during in vitro cultivation, and significantly upregulated upon tick feeding. Allelic exchange replacement and microarray analyses revealed that the Rrp1 regulon consists of a large number of genes encoded by the core Borrelia genome (linear chromosome, linear plasmid 54 and circular plasmid 26) that encode for proteins involved in central metabolic processes and virulence mechanisms including immune evasion.